UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Performing the nation at the frontier : Filipino immigration and settlement in Whitehorse, Yukon Johnson, Kelsey Mae


Over the past decade, Whitehorse, Yukon has emerged as a prominent site of settlement for Filipino newcomers to Canada. The phenomenon largely results from the implementation of new immigration policy in Yukon (starting in 2007) combined with regional economic growth, particularly in the mining sector. On the surface, immigration to Yukon - ostensibly ‘employer driven,’ with Filipino newcomers primarily finding employment in the service sector - bears resemblances to trends observed elsewhere in Canada. Yet the service sector Filipino workers who increasingly feature in the Yukon’s economy do so as permanent, not temporary, immigrants with the right to settle in Canada. This thesis explores the implications of this dynamic, situating it at the broader intersection of immigration and settler colonialism. I demonstrate how new narratives of northern settlement are enrolled in nation-building discourses of multiculturalism that circulate in and about Yukon. I stress how policy discourses support the essentialization of First Nations and Filipino histories. I also argue that state policies locate immigrants and local Indigenous peoples in competitive labor dynamics. In effect, Yukon’s immigration policy demonstrates how the governing of difference also involves processes of governing by difference – infusing performances of national belonging with powerful state imperatives.

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